“Why does gluttony seem to be the accepted sin of the Church?” – @myHopeJourney

 


 

Thanks for the question! This is a difficult one to answer as it steps into psychoanalysis (which is not where my degrees are). I certainly have countenanced your question before, particularly because it hits close to home for me. Earlier this year I decided to hit the weight room and lost 50 pounds that I had accumulated over 10 years. That was my sin that I was bearing in my body that, if I’m being honest, I simply ignored. I’ve never heard my pastor speak on verses like Proverbs 23:2, 20-21; 28:7 which explicitly warn against becoming a glutton with regard to food. 23:2 says you should slit your own throat if you are given to gluttony! Even in 1 Corinthians 6:19, where it says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you… you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body,” my pastor would focus on other sins, but never gluttony.

The short answer to your question is: I’m not entirely sure why churches and pastors writ large seem so silent on this issue. Perhaps, because food is typically one of the centerpieces of social gatherings, the Church doesn’t want to disrupt what works for them. From an outsider’s perspective, though, it certainly seems that church leaders should know better considering that over-indulgence with food is now an American pastime. I do know that some Christians struggle with deeper psychological issues that express themselves through overeating and some deal with physical conditions that override their eating habits; and I’m very sympathetic to that. It’s not easy for some of us to battle this particular issue. Nevertheless Scripture paints a picture that is very clear: Our bodies are a creation of God and, therefore, we must glorify Him through what and how much we eat (just like everything else we do must glorify Him). Certainly if our bodies are sickly and compromised by the excesses of food we’ve eaten we will not be able to do the things that Christ commanded us, particularly the Great Commission.

I think there is one important factor that is influencing all of us in our society. The church’s simultaneous embrace of anti-intellectualism and a form of experientialism that emerged from the Second Great Awakening, Charles Finney’s revivals, and the Layman’s Prayer Revival has led to a vast number of converts today that simply have a shallow comprehension of Scripture. If it were the case that these folks delighted in the Scriptures and meditated on it daily (Psalm 1:2) then they would inevitably have to wrestle with the reality of the passages I previously cited, or the other ones that reinforce the notion that we should exhibit self-control in all things (2 Peter 1:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Galatians 5:22-23). Proverbs 23:7 says that as a man thinks, so he is. The more we learn as we read God’s word, the more it will shape who we are. This certainly applies to food consumption as it does all the other aspects of our daily living.

Just so I don’t get any angry emails later, there are many areas of Scripture that the Church understands correctly (as it should). Nevertheless, we do ourselves a disservice when we miss the holistic picture of Christian duty, which also entails self-control. In other words, the fact that the Church has overweight members and it is largely silent (as far as you and I can see) on the issue of gluttony is, in one sense, a reflection of the level of Scriptural and theological understanding among its members.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I enjoyed this blog! I think it is an excellent question too, but then again, I think that there are many topics that some pastors do not preach or teach on b/c of, like Nate wrote, this anti-intellectualism that has taken up a pew, so to speak, in the Church today.

    I myself struggle with gluttony, as well as, sin in general, but because God calls us to be self-controlled, then it is something that I must strive for by the power of the Holy Spirit!

    Thanks, Nate!

    • Wonderful blog! Thank you so much. I take online courses from a Christian University in which the teachings and assignments are consistently about allowing God to be in control of every part of your life. Most of the professors giving the presentations so far have been grossly overweight. Likewise, I grew up in a church in which I estimate 75% of the congregants were obese including one of the pastors. As a Christian, I find it more and more difficult to take these admonishments and charges seriously from people who clearly ignore a major sin in their own life! I have been referring to them collectively as “Plank Eye.” I would like to add that I believe it is not gluttony alone that is causing this sinful lifestyle but sloth mixed with it. Sloth is also an ignored sin. We live in a culture where one’s greatest objective on any given day is to do as little physically as possible. Forsaking the 30 minute walk every evening to watch the next episode of Dancing with the Stars. And don’t forget to circle the grocery store parking lot 3 times to make sure you get the closest possible parking space. Oy Vey! Lord God, Open our eyes and help us to get a handle on this sinfulness so that we can truly impact this world for You. Amen.

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